In what is commonly referred to as the “Great Commission” Jesus instructed us to do the following in Matthew 28: 18-20 NASB “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
With my military background, I view this as our “Marching Orders”, that which we have been instructed to do by Jesus, the Son of God. There are four main parts to this marching order:
1. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus. Presence tense, now, in heaven AND on earth.
2. We are to go and make disciples of all nations. Go is an action verb, we are to do it, make disciples in ALL nations.
3. Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Baptize the new disciples.
4. Teach them to follow all that I commanded you. Teach the new disciples.
5. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Jesus is always with us, we are not left on our own, Jesus is with us right now and right up to the very moment when He returns again.
It’s pretty straight forward, isn’t it? Go, make disciples, baptize, teach, continue with Me until I return.
And when we go forward to make disciples, what is it in fact that we are to proclaim as we make disciples? Well that appears to also be relatively straight forward, the answer to that would have to be the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the “Good News”.
I don’t know about you but when I think of proclaiming the Gospel a couple of Scripture verses come immediately to my mind: 1 Corinthians 1:22-24 NASB
“For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”(Emphasis is mine)
And this Scripture where Paul summarizes the appearances of Jesus after rising from the dead, as found in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 NASB:
“For I handed down to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.”(Emphasis is mine).
That part where Paul mentions “as of first importance” got my attention and his inclusion of “according to the Scriptures”.
1. Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.
2. Christ was buried and rose again from the dead on the third day according to the Scriptures.
3. Then Jesus appeared to the listed disciples as per the stated sequence.
But of course, we know there is more. That is the tricky part, what exactly is included in that “more”. It’s kind of like a pyramid, the further you go down from the top, the more it tends to expand.
There can of course, be disagreements with regard to what should be included in the “essentials”, because as we go down that pyramid, a substantial amount of variables can and often do surface.
I will list what I surmise as the “essentials” and I would really appreciate input from any of you that can spare the time, if you think I have missed something that should be included. I am definitely open to suggestions for additional inclusions so please do not hesitate. Bear in mind that each of these “essentials” can and will, of necessity, develop into what I would call, layered connectivity. Israel, and Messianic Prophecy, as an example, would definitely need to be included under the “essential” of the incarnation of Jesus as the Son of God, as per the Holy Scriptures. So here goes:
1. The incarnation of Jesus as the Son of God, as per the Holy Scriptures.
2. Jesus is the Son of God, as per God’s testimony in the Holy Bible.
3. Jesus is the only way to obtain reconciliation with God, our Holy Heavenly Father, via faith in God, repentance for our sins and trust in Jesus, as the Son of God, who Himself paid the price for our sins on the cross, with His life, as our Lord and Saviour.
4. The doctrine of Creation and the fall from innocence.
5. The doctrine of the Final Judgement by Jesus.
6. Saved by grace through faith, not by works.
7. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
8. The ascension of Jesus to the Father.
9. The doctrine of the Trinity.
10. The Holy Bible is the inspired and infallible Word of God.
11. Baptism through faith in God and indwelled with God’s Holy Spirit.
12. A new creation – regenerated by God’s Holy Spirit.
13. The doctrine of hell.
14. The return of Jesus.
It should be interesting to see how this list of “essentials” grows.
Something to think about, if you can spare the time.
Post Note: Seriously thinking of adding sub essentials under each noted essential. Let me know you thoughts please! Thank you!
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!
That’s really a very good list of essentials! 🙂
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Thank you, Bruce, for your post. What you are asking for has been set several times in church history through various creeds. Most of these churches have thrown out in order to establish their own doctrines and interpretations of the gospel and the eternal life Christ came to bring from our Heavenly Father. Blessings..
Hi Fran, thank you, I am aware of the history behind the essentials, was just kind of curious what our own little band of believers would come up with. The minute I mentioned sub essentials my own mind started working overtime! It’s really hard to nail them down because of how they all tie into one another and really, all of it is important. It definitely gets you thinking. Blessing Fran!
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“…to follow all that I commanded you.” What is the ALL that he commanded them, Bruce?
Hi Bette, I would assume you are inferring that the ALL is the Gospel, which in essence, would be correct, and that would entail all His commandments and all that Jesus taught them about Himself. That could, in essence, cover both the teaching and preaching aspect, BUT the ALL still has to be specifically identified. For instance, in Luke 24:27 it reads: “Then beginning with Moses and with all the Prophets, He explained to them the things written about Himself in all the Scriptures.” Sorting out those things which are of prime or first importance, to define the Gospel of Jesus Christ AT THAT LEVEL, necessitates discernment of what is of first importance. The word “ALL” doesn’t really do that does it? I would think that what one preaches does not necessarily encompass all that one would necessarily teach, but maybe you are aware of something that I have missed. So would you expand upon that please.
Thanks, Bruce – but the ALL he COMMANDED them to do (observe; keep; obey) refers to actions, not just to teachings. What actions did Jesus command them to do? Those actions are spelled out in the Gospels, and the record of how they and the Apostle Paul obeyed this command is spelled out in the Book of Acts. This doesn’t refer only to things he taught, it refers to actions that he did. He did and showed them how to do actions that he wanted them to continue doing, and then to teach others to do also. It’s an interesting study, finding those things.
Hi Bette, Obviously the actions are part of it, to go and spread the Gospel is an action, among many others that Jesus indicated, but as you say, finding them all and even going so far as to identifying the “essential” ones, can be at a minimum, very “interesting”. Thanks for commenting, always appreciated. Blessings!
Maybe I missed it in your list, but the essential step of repentance needs to be there somewhere. I’m excited to see people sharing the “Good News” and getting people excited about Jesus, but when they leave out (or forget) telling them they need to repent, not just “accept Jesus and all He has for you!”
Hi Annie, that actually crossed my mind too because of the importance of repentance and I was thinking that would be the top sub essential under number 3 where Jesus is the only way to God the Father. But I can add one more essential after number 2 with the actual requirements, or expand #3. Let me know what you think. No kidding, it struck me too that the word repentance wasn’t there.
I expanded # 3, let me know what you think!
I would add the creation and fall from Genesis and the judgement from Revelation. This puts Jesus in context.
Hi Frank, I agree. I looked to see if there was a particular “essential” that that could fall under and I don’t really see it other than the Judgement from Revelation could be covered under the return of Jesus but the fall in Genesis is also vitally important. I will add two more “essentials”, to cover them both, please let me know if you think what I add meets the requirement. And THANK YOU!
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I think those covered it
I’m thinking so too. Thanks Jim. Blessings.
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